Album Review: Graveyard’s Innocence & Decadence Could Be Stronger
On the quality spectrum of retro-sounding bands, Graveyard sits right at the top. The Swedish group’s sound has a decidedly late 60s classic/garage/slightly psychedelic vibe, but unlike so many of the re-hashers out there, these guys have always created hooky songs that almost feel timeless, despite the rather pointed throwback direction.
However, on new album Innocence & Decadence, while the tone and mood continues to effectively offer a soundtrack to your rockin’-yet-mellow sunshine-laden multidimensional acid trip, the tunes themselves are a bit lackluster and lacking in memorable, meaty girth. But writing off Graveyard is simply not an option, especially after experiencing the band’s fiery, empassioned live show, so perhaps expectations must be quelled in order to fully appreciate the material on this album. This record may not inspire quite as much as previous offerings, but there is certainly a great deal of strength held within.
After a brief unusual intro moment of ambient whirring/glass breaking/footsteps echoing, opening track “Magnetic Shunk” barrels out of the gate with a boogie-rock stomp that not only reflects my prior sentiment regarding the band’s retro-era sound but also offers a bit of a Southern vibe alongside Robert Plant-esque wailing.
Second track “The Apple And The Tree” finds a tone in a Dire Straits/Tom Petty/Moody Blues kind of vein, although the chorus comes back to a more garage-y undercurrent. Moody, lilting, deliberately-paced “Exit 97” makes nice use of a swelling organ during the chorus despite a somewhat maudlin verse. It’s also difficult to not get swept up when singer Joakim Nilsson gets going; his passion is fully apparent and infectious.
“Never Theirs to Sell” lays down a nice rocking uptempo ride, although admittedly has a slight filler feeling. But subsequent track “Can’t Walk Out” is a great example of how Graveyard is able to blend together simple, cool lyrical phrases with loftier ideas/ideals (“Can’t walk out on the universe, gotta keep dancing til your music dies”), although I suspect plenty of cynical folks might dislocate their eyeballs from sockets from such hard eye-rolling. This song builds upon that groovy Dire Straits vibe, and culminates in a nice jam that should be rather effective in a live setting.
“Too Much is Not Enough” settles into a rich, soulful pace that feels like the deepest the album has achieved thus far. The addition of female background singers is a perfect touch and supports Nilsson quite nicely. Organ also is a key player here, establishing a warm layer that complements the song wonderfully.
Dirty, scuzzy, almost-glam-ish “From A Hole In the Wall” (which, incidentally, would be a great title for a song about glory holes) employs an urgent frenzy, snarling fuzzy tones, and a highly unexpected yet bona fide blastbeat to up the energy ante.
Following a nice mid-tempo jam (“Cause & Defect”) and another uptempo rocker (“Hard-Headed”), Innocence & Decadence closes on a pretty mellow yet thoroughly satisfying twofer. “Far Too Close” lays down the deepest, bluesiest groove on the whole album (although frankly the guitars sound out of tune on a repeated turnaround during the verses), and final track “Stay For A Song” strips the band away to just guitar and vocals (and a meandering vibraphone in the background, which culminates in a final coda on its own), to great effect though. This powerful, earnest ‘lil ditty offers a heartfelt plea to a fading lover who has one foot out the door.
As previously mentioned, this album doesn’t feel quite as strong as past Graveyard releases or the band’s ripping live show, but there are certainly some sleepers to enjoy and there is a great sense of peaks and valleys throughout.